Just months before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Outdoor Industry Association released a study showing that only half of the U.S. population participated in outdoor recreation.
Lise Aangeenbrug, the association’s executive director, told Outside Online that the study showed that America was becoming “an indoor nation.”
But COVID-19 changed everything for outdoor recreation. Public health orders essentially gave Americans two options: stay at home or get outside. One survey found that 66% of Americans said they’re doing more outdoor activities close to home in a post-COVID world and 32% are participating in more outdoor activities than ever.
This shift in outdoor recreation has been reflected in ecommerce behaviors. Outdoor products, which Amazon originally deprioritized at the beginning of the pandemic, saw a huge spike in opportunity as people spent more time outside. But brands couldn’t fully harness the increased demand because of supply issues—they either didn’t have enough product on hand or enough product allocated specifically to Amazon.
As a result, many outdoor brands have changed their ecommerce strategies for 2021 in hopes of being more prepared for what’s shaping up to be another big year for outdoor gear.
It’s difficult to predict how mass vaccinations and a decrease in coronavirus infections will affect the ecommerce demand for outdoor gear. While people may have a newfound appreciation for nature thanks to 2020’s lockdowns, they may also decide to revert to their old ways of spending most of their time indoors. But some key indicators show that the demand for outdoor gear will remain high in 2021.
National park data, for example, shows that people are more eager than ever to visit national parks in 2021. Great Smoky Mountains National Park experienced its busiest January ever in 2021 with more than 500,000 visitors. Zion National Park reported more than 172,000 visits in January 2021, making it only the third time ever the park topped 100,000 visits in January. The Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina also experienced its busiest January on record in 2021.
The demand for hunting and fishing licenses has also dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued more fishing licenses in 2020 than it had in a single year since 2008. California hunting licenses also increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020. Oregon sold 18% more angling licenses in 2020 than it did in 2019. Idaho also saw dramatic increases in fishing license sales.
In a similar vein, boat sales have also seen record highs amid coronavirus shutdowns. The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported more powerboat purchases in 2020 than the industry has seen since before the 2008 recession.
If people continue to use their newly purchased outdoor gear, licenses, and boats, then 2021 will be another year with a heightened focus on outdoor recreation close to home. As vaccination rates rise, it’s also likely that consumers will travel and plan bigger adventures to make up for lost time.
While different outdoor brands are responding differently to the new ecommerce landscape in the industry, most are shifting their focus toward direct-to-consumer business. Some are launching new products and tools to meet the increasing demand for outdoor products.
Carie Behe, the GTM Marketing Manager for Cotopaxi, has seen outdoor recreation grow in popularity since she started working in the industry more than a decade ago. But she said COVID took that growth to the next level. Cotopaxi is preparing for another big season for close-to-home recreation with new launches in 2021 and eventually international travel and big adventure trips in late 2021 and 2022.
“The brand sees that there is this increased level of outdoor participation, that there is an increased number of people that are recreating closer to home and are looking for versatile products that can go with them on various outdoor adventures,” Behe said. “I think Cotopaxi is really doing a great job of addressing that with some of the products that we're launching this summer.”
Charlie Ninegar, the Vice President of Sales for Nixon Watches, said the pandemic shifted Nixon’s balance between wholesale business and direct-to-consumer business. While both channels saw increased demand, direct-to-consumer business especially flourished in 2020. Nixon was already heading in that direction, but the pandemic accelerated the process.
“If any business in a brand was lagging in their focus on direct selling efforts, the pandemic must have changed their point of view on that,” Ninegar said. “It’s not an option, if you were a product category like us, to not be focused on that side of the business. The pandemic doubled down on how important it is to have a direct relationship with your customers.”
Flip flop brand Havaianas has also seen a shift to digital business as a result of the pandemic. Havaianas President Jacob Uhland said that COVID-19 took Havaianas’ sales from 70% brick-and-mortar and 30% digital to 70% digital and 30% brick-and-mortar. In response, Havaianas closed 14 of its 21 storefronts and prioritized its website.
“We call it the digital revolution,” Uhland said. “We’ve pivoted all of our investments into all of our digital channels. Our stores were off significantly, but we were able to cover 100% of that loss through Havaianas.com.”
Uhland said he believes in the future of brick-and-mortar, however, and doesn’t expect ecommerce to maintain its current level of prominence as the pandemic draws to an end.
Like Havaianas, insole brand Superfeet also made up for its brick-and-mortar losses with a shift to ecommerce. Linda Balfour, the Vice President of Marketing at Superfeet, said the pandemic accelerated Superfeet’s ecommerce efforts, which will continue to remain a focus into 2021.
“We launched an online insole recommendation tool and product videos to help people easily find the right Superfeet for them,” Balfour said about Superfeet’s adaptations to a post-COVID world. “Further development and deployment of those tools will remain a high priority for us and will be core to how we operate in the future.”
Although no one can predict the future of ecommerce—a fact that 2020 has made abundantly clear—it’s evident that the demand for outdoor gear will remain high in 2021. It’s also evident that outdoor brands, along with brands in almost every other category, have entered a digital revolution with direct-to-consumer business at its forefront.
If your brand is looking to be better prepared for digital ecommerce and the demand of online marketplaces, Pattern can help. Talk through your concerns and brand needs with us today.
Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.
If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.
Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.
At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead.
An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.
A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:
Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance.
Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.
A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.
It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.
Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins.
Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.
As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.
Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.